Guide to the breweries in Missoula Montana
When you think of the top cities for beer, you immediately think of Denver, Portland, and Asheville. But here in Montana, the breweries in Missoula have quietly made this city a top destination for beer.
A recent study looked at the number of breweries, concentration of bars and price of a domestic pint to find the best cities for beer drinkers in the US, and Missoula, Montana, checked in at #9!
Thrillst also named it one of the top U.S. destinations that are secretly hiding incredible beer scenes.
Having pioneered the way for craft beer in Montana, if you love both craft beer and traditional beer, then Missoula needs to be on your list!
Psst: We have a bunch of guides about Montana. Browse them all here or see the post below:
Table of Contents
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Booking.com probably has the widest selection of budget (and luxury) accommodations in the world. In our experience, they consistently found the cheapest rooms. We also like their easy to use interface and no money down policy. When we book our travel stays, we personally use booking.com.
Residence Inn by Marriot Downtown
Hands down, the most walkable location for brewery hopping. Located off the main street downtown, you can stroll to 3 beer spots as well as several restaurants and bars.
Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown
This is where my parents stayed when they visited and we HIGHLY suggest this hotel. A minute’s walk from the riverfront Milwaukee Trail, this hotel is conveniently located within a 10 minute walk of 3 breweries, a dozen restauarants and bars!
DoubleTree by Hilton Missoula Edgewater
The DoubleTree is located along the banks of the Clark Fork River. A quick is a 5-minute walk from the University of Montana and 10-minutes to Higgins Ave aka “the hip strip”.
Looking for more options? Click here to see all the hotels in Missoula.
Let’s start this thing out with a quick lesson on Montana beer laws because they can be rough for the local Montana breweries (if you like to drink the amounts we do).
As of 2019, Montana ranked second in the nation for breweries per capita.
BUT, Montana state law sure makes it difficult for beer-lovers to saddle up at a Montana brewery for a few pints. That’s because breweries can only serve customers between the hours of 10 AM and 8 PM.
Also, it is unlawful to serve a customer more than 48 ounces of beer in a single day. That’s 3 pints FYI.
Even worse, if your brewery produces more than 10,000 barrels a year, you can only provide free samples to customers. (There are some loopholes to all of these, for what it’s worth).
These rules are all in place to “protect” the bars and restaurants of the world.
Although unfair to the craft breweries across Montana, it did force us to brewery-hop (and the rest of Montana) and taste everything that these local Missoula breweries have to offer. Poor us!
Map of Breweries in Missoula
Click the interactive map below!
HOW TO USE THIS MAP: To view the layers and see the names of the places on this map, click the tab in the top left corner. You can select the check marks to show or hide certain layers. If you select the icons on the map, you will get more information about the point of interest.
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP: If you select the star icon next to the map name, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. To view it, open Google Maps in desktop or on your phone, select the menu button, go to “Your Places,” scroll to the right to Maps, and you will see this map.
During the summer (and non-COVID times), there is a huge concert venue and amphitheater behind the brewery, bringing in some big names like Luke Bryan, the Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan, The Fray, and numerous more.
You know when you walk in somewhere and just immediately feel good vibes?
That’s how we felt walking into Draught Works Brewery in Missoula, Montana. A few steps in and you instantly smell “brewery”. And that’s a good thing. Not like that stale beer smell from all those college parties you went.
One of the more diverse tap lists of all the breweries in Missoula, it’s full of IPA’s, pale ales, sours, lagers, stouts, and even seltzers. The diversity in beer makes this Great American Beer Festival award-winner a crowd-pleaser. Samantha usually hates Blood Orange beers, but had the Blood Orange Gose, which was incredibly balanced and approachable. Chris had the Pineapple Express IPA which he wouldn’t hesitate putting in front of any IPA drinker.
Enjoy your beer on their huge wrap-around patio all year long with misters in the summer and heaters in the winter.
Photo Credit: Highlander Beer Facebook
Highlander Beer has a pretty neat backstory (as do many of the breweries in Missoula). Highlander Beer actually started out way back in 1890 as Missoula Brewing Company.
In the early 1900s, they asked and received permission to use the Highlander name from the Highlanders baseball team of New York, who eventually became the Yankees. Highlander was a mainstay for Montana folks for many decades, even surviving Prohibition, until it closed its doors in the 1960s.
Resurging to life in 2015, Highlander Beer is back and providing Missoula and the surrounding areas with great craft beer and a relaxing atmosphere.
There is a huge outdoor area and patio next to a creek where you can enjoy the Montana-outdoors while sipping on your brew and noshing on some artisan pizza. They even have a new event space under a huge pavilion for all your outdoor event needs.
Their philosophy? “Make great beer. Have fun. Do good and give a damn about our community.” Simple as that.
A wide-ranging draft list includes their Beach Blonde, the Guns N’ Gose, the Kessel Run milkshake IPA, and the Drum Kick Java stout, among many others. All of their beers pair perfectly with their southern-inspired food menu, fried Brussels sprouts, fried chicken, and meatloaf to name a few.
Come enjoy a beer or two at the bar, in the dining room, or on their outdoor patio looking over downtown Missoula.
Located in downtown Missoula, Tamarack Brewing is more than just a taproom. With a large and savory menu, you can pick the type of environment you want to drink your beer.
Their upstairs offers a casual dining experience with outside seating overlooking Caras Park.
Their downstairs has more of a fun sports-pub vibe, but both levels offer the same delicious food and brews. With their original brewery and location in Lakeside, Montana, we visited both locations and really enjoyed our meals at both.
Calling yourself the country’s first of anything is a big deal. Especially if it involves a brewery.
Well, Imagine Nation Brewing is the nation’s first combination brewery and center for community transformation. What is that exactly? Through craft beer and education, Imagine Nation tackles the challenges of our current times and attempts to fuel social change in Missoula and beyond.
Due to when we visited, we were limited to only the few canned beers available, but the two we had on their outdoor patio (Liminal Space All Mosaic NEIPA and the Saideira Brazilian lager) were both really good and refreshing! If you are looking to drink beer for a cause, Imagine Nation needs to be the top stop when visiting the breweries in Missoula!
Although we enjoyed our flight of beers here indoors, Montana is well-known for its beautiful and world-class outdoor experience. KettleHouse Brewing strives to match the quality of their beer with the quality of the Montana outdoors…..a pretty high bar to set, but one we think they’ve accomplished!
You might’ve read about Montana state law restricting on-site consumption to 48 oz. of beer per person per day.
Well, it was KettleHouse (along with a few others breweries in Missoula) that lobbied the Montana State Legislature in 1999 to legalize on-premise consumption of beers in the first place, and they became the first Montana brewery to charge for a pint of beer in their taproom.
Cheers to the trend-setters and rule-breakers (at least as it relates to craft beer laws)!
Today, they are brewing up some seriously-tasty brews like the Cold Smoke Scotch Ale and the Sour in the Streets. We liked their stuff so much that we got a crowler of the Vanilla Cold Smoke and a couple of their bottled sours to enjoy in the great Montana outdoors.
Photo Credit: Great Burn
Their name, Great Burn, is to honor the owners’ fallen brother who was a firefighter working in the Great Burn Wilderness who’s career turned into a Lolo Hotshot and a heli-rappeler. Having seen a wildfire in person during our extended time in Montana, we have a real appreciation for the people who risk their lives fighting these fires. Cheers to you!
With all of the new-age craft breweries out there producing every variant of IPA, stout, and sour beer imaginable (and don’t get us wrong, we love the wild and crazy experiments from these breweries), Bayern Brewing is a refreshing change back to beer in its purest form.
Bayern began brewing in 1987, and is one of the only German microbreweries in the Rockies. The homeland of the owner/master brewer is the German state of Bavaria, which has a rich tradition in beer.
That means all of their lagers are brewed in very strict accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, or the German Law of Purity, which means you’ll only find 4 ingredients in the beer here: malted barley, water, hops, and yeast.
No fruit. No peanut butter. No beer conditioned on crumbles of cookies. No artificial carbonation. Just good old-fashioned (and pure) German beer which takes up to four times as long to make as conventional ales and at least twice as long as mass-produced domestic lagers.
We tried their whole flight of 10 beers and really enjoyed the Dragon’s Breath, a Dunkelweizen, and the Dump Truck, a summer bock. Both extremely tasty and crushable. When visiting the breweries in Missoula, Bayern Brewing will take you back to the basics.
Their annual Oktoberfest celebration is expectedly one of their biggest events of the year and their Oktoberfest beer is one of the most popular beers available. Prost!
Gild Brewing is located on Missoula’s “Hip Strip”, a collection of some very unique, and 100% locally-owned and operated, shops which include clothing, art, surfboards, books, music, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, an ice cream shop, and of course, this brewery.
This funky and popular neighborhood is very close to the University of Montana’s Missoula campus, but Gild is definitely more upscale than your typical college dive bar/brewery (at least the ones we remember).
Unique to the breweries in Missoula, Gild has three distinct floors: an arcade in the basement, taproom on the main floor, and a lounge on the second floor. Each floor has its own bar with numerous taps serving beer, wine, and cider. You can also nibble on some Mexican-inspired drinking food while you sip on your brew.
The Gildy Pleasure Hefeweizen and the Daddy Long Legs juicy IPA were our favorites from their rotating tap list. Flagship beers aren’t really a thing here which lets them continuously create new ones for everyone to enjoy.
And the folks here really like great beer (hey, us too!), so they also offer guest taps of local and other delicious beer for you to try. When we were at a different brewery the day before, they didn’t have the Strawberry Margarita Gose beer that Samantha really wanted. Luckily, Gild had it on one of their guest taps!
Visiting a taproom like this is one of our favorite ways to experience as many local drinks as possible without having to criss-cross the city or region. If you are limited on time to visit multiple breweries in Missoula, this is a great option!
Overall breweries in Missoula Montana
Whether you like traditional beers or funky small batches, the breweries in Missoula are quickly, but somehow quietly, making this a beer destination. From the robust IPAs to the flavorful lagers, the Missoula breweries have something for everyone. It’s easy to understand after visiting why Missoula will be a top beer destination in the future like Portland or San Diego. Until then, we will enjoy all the wonderfulness being brewed here!
For more information on Montana and nearby, check out:
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We are Samantha & Chris and we are Boozing Abroad (literally). Together, we've traveled to over 40 states and 20 countries drinking local beers, wines and spirits along the way.
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Samantha and Chris fell in love with traveling together back in 2015. They met, married, and lived together in Richmond, VA for 7 years before becoming full-time travelers in 2020.
Along the way, they’ve traveled to over 40 U.S. states and 20 countries while drinking local beers, wines, and spirits during their journeys.
Join them as they share travel resources, stories, and guides based on their personal experiences drinking locally when traveling globally.